Erin McLaughlin was giving evidence at Derry Crown Court on the second day of the murder trial of her former partner.
Waiter Liam Whoriskey, 25, from Glenabbey Gardens in the city, denies murdering Kayden McGuinness, whose bruised body was found in his bed in his home at Colmcille Court in the Bogside area on September 17, 2017.
Whoriskey, who had been living in the child’s family home for eight months, also denies two charges of inflicting cruelty on Kayden and a further charge of failing to protect the child.
Kayden’s body was found in his bed the morning after the defendant had babysat him and the boy’s five month old sister while their mother was out socialising.
The jury of seven men and five women heard on Wednesday that Kayden died as a result of sustaining fifteen blunt force trauma injuries to his scalp which caused a bleeding of and swelling of the brain. He also had a broken rib.
Prosecution counsel Peter Irvine QC said the injuries were non-accidental.
Ms McLaughlin, who herself had been arrested and questioned on suspicion of murdering her son and who had become engaged to the defendant a week before her son’s death, continued to be cross-examined by defence counsel Ciaran Mallon QC on the second day of the trial.
The Belfast Telegraph reports that Mr Mallon put it to Ms McLaughlin that, while she was able to give a detailed statement to the police about the events of Saturday, September 16 and Sunday, September 17, the day when her son’s body was found by the defendant, she had no recollection of the events of Friday, September 15, when she was the only adult in the family flat with Kayden.
“I am suggesting to you something happened in that flat on the Friday when you were the only adult in the flat with Kayden and you do not want to remember it”, Mr Mallon said.
The witness replied “no”.
“Just so as the jury are left in no doubt, I put it to you you were the adult with sole custody and care of Kayden on the Friday when my client was out at work,” the barrister said.
Ms McLaughlin replied “yes”.
The defence barrister then said “I am putting it to you, might something have happened with Kayden which caused you, conveniently or otherwise, not able to remember anything that happened on the Friday?”
The witness, who broke down several times during the cross examination, again replied “no”.“Did things get on top of you to such an extent that you were just overwhelmed?” he asked the witness, who again replied “no”.
“Did things ever get too much for you Ms McLaughlin”, Mr Mallon asked, to which the witness replied “no, no”.
Ms McLaughlin agreed that on the evening before Kayden’s body was found, her son had been behaving out of character and she agreed with Mr Mallon’s description of her son’s behaviour as weird and out of the ordinary.
She also agreed that Kayden’s out of character behaviour included the child putting himself to bed, not bringing his toys to bed with him and the fact that Kayden didn’t go into the kitchen to play ten, nine, eight, seven count down with his mother as she heated his bed time milk bottle in the microwave.